Skip to main content

The Most Important Lesson I've Learned from Self-Publishing So Far

It's been just about two months since I self-published my book, I Need a Job.

Available now for only $2.99 on Kindle!
In that time, I've sold an underwhelming 12 units - not great at all, but also not especially unexpected.  I've yet to dedicate a solid amount of time to advertising, though I may be stepping up those efforts later.  Technically there's still time left this year.

Nevertheless, I wanted to take some time today to share with the world the single most valuable lesson I learned during the process of writing, editing, and preparing my novel for publication.  It's something I wish somebody had told me before I started.  You ready?
Ahem.  "Release a print copy first."

There.  That's the lesson.

I was so caught up in the rush to get a Kindle version released that I pretty much ignored the print copy altogether.  I told myself, "Print is dead.  People don't buy books anymore.  They buy software.  They buy soft copies.  They use Kindles and Nooks and iPads."  I had it in my head that ten million people would spend three bucks on the MOBI version of my book, but not even a single customer would consider a hard copy.

So I agonized over the Kindle format.  I asked my designer, Megan Cranford, to focus on the front cover more than the back, and I didn't even bother to ask for help with the spine.  I made a big point of reading up on soft copies and tried out different formatting styles on my own Kindle to make sure I was spacing things just right.  Then I agonized over price and marketing and reviews and all that other garbage.

And finally, after months of tormenting myself, I put the book on Kindle, and every single person who had any interest in buying asked me the same question:

"Can I get it in print?"

I had a decent amount of local interest in my book when I first announced it in October.  There was a mad rush of texts and emails, congratulations and good lucks, and general enthusiasm.  But no sales - because only a small percentage of the people who knew about the book had a Kindle.

So I finally decided to look into a hard copy on CreateSpace.  As it turned out, putting a hard copy together was harder than preparing a Kindle version.  Go figure.

But you know what else CreateSpace does?  Fucking Kindle format.

If I just started with a hard copy in the first place, I'd have ended up releasing my book in both print and soft copy at the same time, and I wouldn't have had to worry about whether any potential buyers would have been able to buy it.  Plus, whatever marketing efforts I actually can make on my own require a tangible copy, so what the hell good is a Kindle product right now?

That's my lesson to the world.  If you're about to self publish: good luck, and put it in print.  Doesn't matter how "dead" print is, it's the only thing that's universally accessible.  And besides, it's not actually that expensive.

Buy it in paperback for only $9.99!